A Facebook question about Earthing and Grounding

Thread Starter


Joined Sep 25, 2015
I find this question on Facebook:
And I give it my answer already and I will post my answer that I already made for it.
But I am curious what you guys will say first, without me influencing you with my answer.
I am an artist, I am not an electrician or electronist. My relation with electronics is in the hobby level. But I am an old hobbyist and not a beginner and I have some good knowledge from long time ago that I still remember and apply and guide even today.
I am curious what you will say, my good friends here about this difference and if it is one?
Thank you.


Joined Mar 30, 2015
Earthing is less ambiguous than grounding. Earthing refers to earth ground explicitly. Grounding doesn't necessarily involve earth ground. Context is important to discern intention.


Joined Jan 27, 2019
The answer to the question depends on the context.

In the context of household power distribution wiring (particularly in the US), there is no practical difference. There is a technical one, that only becomes an issue of the third wire in the system, intended to provide a safe path for fault currents is not equipotential to earth ground (literally a connection to the earth) that the distribution point is supposed to be bonded to.

This is a fault condition. But a qualified electrician might say something like "your panel isn't bonded to ground so your receptacle grounds aren't grounded". But, the green wire is called the "ground wire" and the third pin is the "ground pin"
Note that "ground" and "earth" are also synonyms in ordinary speech, "she dug a hole in the ground" means the same thing as "she dug a hole in the earth".

In the context of circuits, on the other hand, it's quite different. People are fast and loose with "ground". I have even heard people say "the red wire goes to positive and the black to ground" when talking about connecting to a battery. This is not some ambiguity, it's plain wrong.

In the context of circuits and the devices they are built into, there is the 0V point which is not ground, which may or may not be attached to chassis ground, which is badly named. And that chassis ground may or may not be connected earth ground, which should just be called "earth".

It would help is we changed the usage from "ground" to "common", and dropped "ground" to make it plain "chassis" and "earth". The semantic confusion is a serious problem. People confuse labels with reality and it can cause actual problems.


Joined Jun 7, 2009
If I were to guess, I’d say ‘earthing’, is the striking to earth, as in a buried electrode. Grounding then would be connecting to the plane emanating from that strike.


Joined Mar 13, 2020
The biggest difference between earthing and ground is a very large pond in between them. Let me explain: There's an ocean between North America and the UK. Like the difference in the way we pronounce Jaguar and Aluminum, it's more a manor of speak. But more specifically, like others have said before me - earthing is directly related to earth ground, whereas just "Ground" can refer to different potential common points. Chassis ground, Common ground and earth ground are the most prevalent.


Joined Jan 23, 2018
"Earthing" is a practicable method of approaching "grounding".
Actual "ground" is a mythical plane of zero potential, zero voltage gradient, and zero impedance.
Typical "ground" often comes fairly close, mostly close enough. Earthing is the effort towards connection to this ground plane. Power systems common side is intended to be close to "ground" in both voltage and resistance. Mostly it is close enough.


Joined Oct 2, 2009
… as in ground zero and common ground.
These are commonly used and accepted terms to represent an established reference point.

Thread Starter


Joined Sep 25, 2015
Thank you everyone for your very nice answers !!!
Yes, I left some time until all the answers gathered. Very interesting answers and I like them.
As I promised, here is how I see it. Keep in mind, that I am not an engineer in electronics or electrics. I am an (old) hobbyist who likes to learn new things about this world.
Of course there are more details that I fly over them, not mentioning them. Like the obvious US-UK terminology that everybody pointed it out. I just ignore it, purposely. And also I am not at the level of a well trained electrician, like you did explained better than me in some parts. Keep in mind, this is before your answers here.
So this is how I see it. It is part of my "general knowledge". And my experience.
Here is my original answer:


Joined Jul 18, 2013
@q12x Also in a typical grounded electrical service. The service supply transformer has an earth grounded conductor called a neutral, therefore the primary path for the ground at the final installation is from the local ground point back to this service earth point.
It doesn't dissipate into the ground as there has to be a return path or reference.
The resitance of this path is usually measured and has to conform to a certain resistance level in order to be valid.
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Joined Sep 24, 2015
I think 0V/common, chassis, and earth would be so much better if they came into common use.
Another "Common" term used to describe an electrical fault is "Short". Too often I see people describe a failed electrical circuit as a short when many times it's actually an "Open" circuit.

For some reason we latch onto a turn of phrase and use it as a catch-all for everything. Ground can be used to represent so many things. Ground Hog - as in a rodent that predicts the extent of winter. With a less than 20% accuracy to boot. I like to try and use the proper terms when describing an electrical issue or connection. However, I have no idea how many times I've used the wrong term to describe a condition. This "Ground" question has been asked and hashed many times. One just need research AAC for the term "ground" and will likely find many threads relating to this very question.


Joined Oct 2, 2009
Earth is the term used in UK.
Ground is the term used in NA.

All the electrical 3-pin plugs/sockets I have worked with never use the letter G. It is always the letter E for earth.
Power supplies, test equipment, etc. use the letters GND or the earth symbol.

Thus it is accepted practice (whether right or wrong) that ground and earth are used interchangeably.


Thread Starter


Joined Sep 25, 2015
interesting to hear your definition after this thread.
wrong - it's not "after" but it is Before !!!! I mention it a couple of times already. It's before everyone else here explanations. I wanted to see if we coincide. And I think we did. Minus some high level depth that is really not my domain or routine.
And this is my promise I did in the OP (Original Post) that I will post my original answer after some answers I got here. I hope is clear now. ;)


Joined Jul 18, 2013
It definitely leads to confusion when one. e.g. Earth, is used indiscriminately to indicate power common, as it is throughout such as "Art of Electronics" etc.
Seems to defeat the object of a 'Standard' :(